A multi-cohort study of the immune factors associated with infection outcomes

Journal: Nature

Published: 2018-08-22

DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0439-x

Affiliations: 16

Authors: 18

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Research Highlight

A prognostic indicator for tuberculosis



Levels of natural killer cells in the bloodstream could offer a prognostic indicator of when asymptomatic tuberculosis is likely to transition to active disease.

A team that included scientists from the University of Cape Town sorted blood samples collected as part of several large cohort studies on tuberculosis from South Africa and China into their various immune components.

The researchers showed that people with latent tuberculosis infections have more circulating natural killer cells than uninfected individuals. Natural killer cell counts drop during active disease — and analyses of lung tissue revealed that people with more pulmonary inflammation have fewer natural killer cells in their bloodstream. Natural killer cell levels rise again, however, following successful therapy.

Blood tests for these immune cells could thus help clinicians track the progress of the disease as well as responses to treatment. The findings may also lead to new intervention strategies.

Supported content

  1. Nature 560, 644–648 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0439-x
Institutions Share
Stanford University, United States of America (USA) 0.27
University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa 0.22
UCT South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI), South Africa 0.11
Catalysis Foundation for Health, United States of America (USA) 0.08
Stanford Medicine, United States of America (USA) 0.06
DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Tuberculosis Research (CBTBR), South Africa 0.06
Shenzhen Third People's Hospital, SUSTech, China 0.06
Shenzhen University Health Science Center, China 0.06
South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), South Africa 0.03
Stellenbosch University (SU), South Africa 0.03
Mater Research Institute - University of Queensland (MRI-UQ), Australia 0.01